NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Whether playing games, flipping stations or watching a DVD, teens gladly stare at a TV screen. Jim Johnston notices this when his teenage son and his son’s friends congregate in his family’s bonus room.

“Teenagers are so media-oriented,” said Johnston, interim marketing director in the church resources division at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The best way to bring them into God’s Word is by using all the technological tools we’ve been given.”

So, LifeWay created “Fuel: Igniting a New Life with God’s Story.” Fuel is a digital Bible study aimed at seventh- through 12th-graders, designed to be a “rockin,’ edgy, life-changing experience,” Johnston said.

Nielsen Media Research reports that teens watched an average of three hours and seven minutes of television each day in 2003. Also in 2003, the Motion Picture Association of America’s Worldwide Market Research found that 12- to 17-year-olds accounted for 18 percent of movie theater admissions.

Fuel uses contemporary Christian music, state-of-the-art graphics and video segments that include average teens in candid interviews about the topics featured in each session. Each lesson also includes an experienced youth leader who communicates the Bible story at the heart of each session.

“When we asked student ministry leaders, we found out that more than 80 percent of them wanted some kind of video component to use for Bible study,” Johnston wrote in an explanatory article on the Fuel website. “That said one thing to me – these leaders knew their teenagers inside and out.”

The first volume of the study premiered in July, and more than 1,000 churches purchased Fuel during its first two months of release.

“My students actually asked for more,” said Adam York, youth minister of First Baptist Church in Jamestown, Tenn.

York showed his youth group the promotional first segment of Fuel that tells the story of Noah’s flood and features a segment with a skateboarding theme.

“I’ve never thought they actually heard the Bible study until now,” he said. “The material is the best I’ve seen.”

Johnston admitted that youth ministers and leaders may not be comfortable or accustomed to the music and video used in "Fuel," but it was all designed with teenagers – not their older leaders – in mind.

“We’re trying to make sure and reach the kids that are a little different,” Johnston explained. “There are segments about skateboarding and other things that students are into. We wanted to make sure we appealed to the teenagers.”

After the positive response to the promotional DVD, York ordered the first volume of Fuel for the church’s Wednesday night youth Bible study. He said about 30 teens typically attend the study, but that number is growing because more regular attendees are inviting their friends.

Each volume of Fuel includes 12 sessions presented on two DVDs and three CD-ROMs. Each session has three parts: “The Spark” is designed to capture the students’ attention using themes such as skateboarding and prepare them for the more in-depth material to come; “Fanning the Flame” features straightforward interviews with teens who have a variety of opinions and backgrounds; and “Combustion,” the meat of each session, draws on the skills of an experienced youth leader to present the Bible story. 

“The videos relate to what they’re doing now, but it’s not cheesy,” York said. “The Combustion part presents it in a way that makes you want to hear more.”

Through eight volumes of the study, students will have the opportunity to hear the complete Bible in 96 stories over the course of two years.

Johnston said Volume 2 is scheduled for release Nov. 1, and the other volumes will follow every three months through July 2006.

“It’s stuff similar to MTV, but it presents the Word,” York said.

To view sample materials, request a promo DVD and learn more about "Fuel," visit www.lifeway.com/Fuel.


© 2004 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.